Gift Supports the Arts and Humanities at Ole Miss

Harriet and Warren Stephens honor pianist Bruce Levingston with contribution

Bruce Levingston, the Chancellor’s Honors College Artist-in-Residence and holder of the Lester Glenn Fant Chair at the university, performs a sunrise concert in Kenya. Levingston has been honored with a gift from Warren and Harriet Stephens that will support the university’s efforts in the arts, creativity and culture. Photo by Michael Poliza

OXFORD, Miss. – A gift from Warren and Harriet Stephens through the Warren A. Stephens Trust of Little Rock, Arkansas, honors pianist Bruce Levingston, the Chancellor’s Honors College Artist-in-Residence and holder of the Lester Glenn Fant Chair at the University of Mississippi.

The Fant Chair allows the holder “to bring leading figures in the arts and humanities to the University of Mississippi, to encourage broad appreciation for the importance of creativity and imagination to all fields, and to promote deeply informed critical thinking among our students and citizens.”

Chancellor Glenn Boyce expressed appreciation for the couple’s support.

“We are incredibly grateful to Warren and Harriet Stephens for their thoughtful gift, which will boost our endeavors in the arts, creativity and culture on campus,” Boyce said. “A gift to the Chancellor’s Honors College Artist-in-Residence Support Endowment is truly a gift to our entire community because of Bruce Levingston’s long-standing legacy of serving our students through his talent and experiences he brings to our university.

“We are fortunate to have people like the Stephenses and Bruce who advance our efforts in the arts and play a significant role in helping our university achieve the highest levels of excellence.”

The Stephenses are longtime supporters of the arts. The couple, who recently led the redesign of the Arkansas Museum of Fine Arts in Little Rock, said they made the $50,000 gift to UM because of the positive impact the arts and humanities have on all segments of society.

Bruce Levingston (left) is being honored with a generous gift by Harriet and Warren Stephens, of Little Rock, Arkansas. The gift will support the arts and humanities at Ole Miss. Submitted photo

“The arts and humanities enrich our lives and thinking,” said Warren Stephens, chair, president and CEO of Stephens Inc., a privately held investment bank. “We see that enrichment firsthand in Little Rock, where the arts help unite us, reveal commonalities, celebrate our differences and shape new experiences.”

Harriet Stephens added that the gift honors the couple’s friendship with Levingston, his achievements and his passion for sharing his knowledge with students in the university’s Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College.

“Bruce performed at the museum’s grand opening gala and put together a program for that evening that was really special,” she said. “His support and generosity meant a great deal to us.”

When trying to determine how their appreciation and support of Levingston could have the most impact, the couple got some advice from friend Archie Manning, the legendary Ole Miss alumnus and quarterback.

“Archie was so kind by helping to direct our gift in Bruce’s honor to the most appropriate home, the Lester Glenn Fant Chair-Chancellor Honors College Artist-in-Residence Support Endowment,” Warren Stephens said.

The university has been expanding the ways that it facilitates, celebrates and advances creativity across campus. Noel Wilkin, provost and executive vice chancellor for academic affairs, recognizes that creativity is an essential element for the advancement of all fields.

“One of the best ways for us to advance and celebrate creativity is to invest in the arts,” Wilkin said. “Experiences created by amazing artists like Bruce Levingston help to put creativity on full display and help us to recognize how the arts take our emotions, perspectives and thoughts in new and exciting directions.”

The new resources from the Stephenses will benefit students, said Ethel Young Scurlock, Honors College dean.

“I am excited about the deep impact of this gift from Harriet and Warren,” she said. “Bruce Levingston’s work as an artist and professor has been transformational for our students in the Honors College and this support fund will assist him as he continues to enrich the experiences of our students.

“We look forward to working with Bruce Levingston as he maximizes this generous gift from the Stephenses and brings renowned creatives to our campus who stretch our students and elevate the arts in our community.”

Levingston said he is grateful for the financial support that will benefit those in the LOU community who appreciate the arts and humanities.

“I am honored and touched by this extremely generous gift from Harriet and Warren Stephens,” Levingston said. “Their visionary leadership in philanthropy for arts and education is inspiring, and their thoughtful donation will allow the university to continue to bring outstanding creative figures to the University of Mississippi.”

Over the past decade, Levingston has helped bring to campus such acclaimed individuals as Pulitzer Prize-winning author Ron Chernow, filmmaker Ken Burns and Italy’s prima ballerina assoluta Alessandra Ferri.

On Oct. 25, Levingston will host Pulitzer Prize-winning author Jane Smiley and civil rights author Ethel Morgan Smith, both of whom will meet with students before being featured speakers in a free community program in Nutt Auditorium. The authors’ visits are sponsored by the Lester Glenn Fant Chair Support Fund.

Levingston recently released his 10th solo album, “Without Words” (Sono Luminus), and is slated to perform the national anthem Oct. 7 at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium for the Ole Miss-Arkansas football game.

Individuals and organizations can support the arts and humanities at Ole Miss with a gift to the Lester Glenn Fant Chair Endowment by sending a check that designates the endowment in the memo line to the University of Mississippi Foundation, 406 University Ave., Oxford, MS 38655; or by giving online here.

For more information on supporting the Chancellor’s Honors College Artist-in-Residence Support Fund and/or the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College, contact Brady Bramlett, director of development, at or 662-915-3081.